Transforming Madrid – High Rise Planning: Creating a City Within the City.

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High Rise Planning: Creating a City Within the City The Case of the Prolongation of Madrid’s Castellana. Gemma Peribáñez Ayala | ARCHITECT

Madrid’s Paseo de la Castellana represents the city’s true structuring axis. That is to say, beyond housing basic functions it acts as a communications channel and support for the adjacent built tissue, constituting a vertebral piece of the city’s morphological skeleton and a key part of its mental map, adding comprehension or order to the city as a whole. The historical construction of the La Castellana Axis shows that this particular quality has resulted from a long and fragmented process in which initiatives and projects were allocated according

Madrid’s Paseo de la Castellana acts (...) as (...) a vertebral piece of the city’s morphological skeleton. 50

to a coherent argument able to organise the plan, topography, built and functional dimensions of the Street. The Prolongation of La Castellana project constitutes the final episode of this process. It thus responds to the twofold aim of extending and finishing Madrid’s best street whilst reinforcing its character as the city’s central piece: attractor of the institutional, managerial and most qualified tertiary functions and, therefore, a privileged space for architectural innovation. The Prolongation of La Castellana is thus both a project for the creation of a new centrality and for urban reconstruction, making the most of the opportunity of the obsolete railway or industrial land located to the north of the city in order to generate new urban tissue to integrate infrastructural, tertiary and residential uses in a balanced way around the Castellana’s main Axis. In the 21st century the Axis’ vertebral character as a civic institution cannot be related to the street’s primary function as a traffic channel. For this reason, the inspiring argument for

Masterplan’s tridimensional organization (source: Ezquiaga Arquitectura, Sociedad y Territorio).


High rise is not a mere iconic resource but aims to generate an intelligent answer to the organisational demands of the contemporary city. the project is the generation of synergies between accessibility based on an ample public transport service and the new central functions. In contrast to geometric or merely casual composition criteria it is the transport nodes (underground and rail network) that determine the condensation points of the tertiary functions. It is a clear bet for high rise buildings, from thirty to sixty floors, with the aim of maximising accessibility and minimising land occupancy for the benefit of residential uses, services and open spaces. In its bet to prolong La Castellana, creating a city within the city, Madrid moves away from the growing trend towards the dislocation of central functions in isolated campuses in peripherial metropolitan environments whilst it generates, at the same time, a new space for typological research in which high rise is not a mere iconic resource but aims to generate an intelligent answer to the organisational demands of the contemporary city.


View of the prolongation of the Paseo de la Castellana (source: Ezquiaga Arquitectura, Sociedad y Territorio).

The project responses to an innovative and contemporary urban focus: Firstly, it is an urban recycling and transformation project that takes advantage of the obsolete railway lands situated to the north of Madrid to generate a new urban area that can integrate infrastructural functions, tertiary and residential uses all around the axis of La Castellana. Secondly, the project is based on public transportation, the underground and city railway, guaranteeing good accessibility between Madrid city and its metropolitan area. No housing or working area is situated farther than 300 metres from a metro station or 400 metres from a city railway station. In addition a 53

variety of complementary public transportation is planned such as cycle paths, reserved platforms for buses, or pedestrianized residential areas. Finally, the design addresses the complexity of a contemporary city and contributes with three-dimensional solutions providing an interesting approach to mixed uses: tertiary, residential, public spaces and social equipment.

Prolongation of Madrid’s Castellana Avenue Promoter Madrid Town Council Location Castellana Avenue, Madrid Design Team José María Ezquiaga, architect and sociologist Gemma Peribáñez, architect Alvaro Ardura, architect Cristina Sanchez, architect Developer Desarrollo Urbanistico Chamartín, Duch S.A Site area 3,120,000 square meters Total built floor area 3,280,000 square meters Total direct investment 11 billion euros